In the maritime industry, increased regulation has forced equipment makers to grapple with technical challenges, facing levels of technical complexity that were not previously seen. And sometimes, timetables for implementing regulations come up hard against these types of realities.

So it is with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has the role of implementing the provisions in the Clean Air Act, a landmark piece of legislation from the early 1970s. At a Think Tank session held at the recent International WorkBoat Show, Alan Stout, staff engineer in the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality, acknowledged that Tier 4 regulations aimed at tightening NOx emissions from marine diesel engines adopted in 2008 (phased in during the 2014-2017 model years) were put in place, in retrospect, ahead of the wide availability of technologies for engine manufacturers.

Stout pointed to procedures in place since an earlier implementation — that of the enactment of IMO’s Tier III rules in Emission Control Areas (ECAs). Where a suitable engine may not be available, the Coast Guard may grant exemptions, but such a determination might come only after a detailed study of a particular vessel’s design parameters.

In the Think Tank discussion of Tier 4 regulations moderated by WorkBoat Senior Editor Ken Hocke, Stout said that “there are not very many engines certified for Tier 4 in the 600 kW to 1,400 kW sizes,” a size common in fishing and pilot boats. “We need more time to sort out the challenges,” he said. “We need to get a better feel of what’s been done, and what’s possible.”

Stout suggested that a proposal for a spring 2019 revised rulemaking might be in the works. He explained that a 2021 start date might be more practical for some engines (especially 900 kW to 1,400 kW), while 2024 could make more sense for smaller (600 kW to 1,000 kW) engines.

In chatting with Stout after his talk, it was clear that the WorkBoat Show provided an excellent forum for taking the pulse of the industry — learning by walking around the show floor and talking to the appropriate exhibitors (and other attendees). This included gaining knowledge of “what’s coming and when” and “what could we do to make the engines cleaner.”

Stout stressed that “we don’t want to punish the engine makers.”


A collection of stories from guest authors.